Habit (1996)

MAY 24, 2009


Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that I usually will post which movie I am going to watch that day (if nothing else, I hope it cuts down on the “Wait, you really watch a movie every day?” questions). 9 times out of 10, they earn no response, but when I posted today that I was going to watch Larry Fessenden’s Habit, two fellow journalists were quick to reply. One was ComingSoon’s Ed Douglas, who pointed out that the female lead was a good friend of his (why can’t any of MY good female friends play naked vampires with lesbian tendencies in horror movies??), and the other was RobG from IconsofFright, who threatened to hit me if I didn’t like the movie.

Well luckily for Rob (and Ed’s friend), I did like the movie. The editor in me couldn’t help but bemoan the occasional slack pace (it’s 115 minutes long but 90-95 would have sufficed), but it was still a refreshingly low key (and VERY indie) take on the traditional “guy’s new girlfriend turns out to be a vampire” story. Oddly, the moments that were the least successful were the ones that were full-on vampire scenes. An odd scene where the lovers (Larry himself plays the lead) run from wolves before the vampire girl stops them with her hand and a snarl seems completely out of place, and even though its established that Larry’s character likes to cook, why he would have a giant bag of garlic hanging from the ceiling remains a mystery.

Far more successful is the relative mysteriousness of it all. Whether it’s from a lack of the budget or (more likely) a design choice, the full extent of her powers is never really established. She seems to appear out of thin air, but maybe she’s just quiet (we don’t actually SEE her appear out of thin air, in other words). For a large section of the film, we’re not even sure if she’s real at all, as she doesn’t interact with the other characters and only seems to show up when Larry is alone.

I also liked the non-glamorous depiction of New York. Like Mulberry Street (a film in which Fessenden appears), our characters are working class schmoes, and their apartments are hardly palaces. Most NY set films revolve around wealthy folks (or tourists), not the guys who serve your food or run the audio for your band’s gig. I suck at NY geography, so I don’t know which neighborhood it all takes place in (judging by the number of pretentious artists, I would assume Williamsburg), but its much more interesting than the umpteenth Riverside Drive building-set movie where Liz Lemon and 4000 other fictional New Yorkers seem to reside. There’s a great bit where they ride a ferris wheel that is sandwiched between two buildings... there’s something strange and alluring about the idea of looking out your window and seeing a carnival ride inches away.

Also, I kind of like the balls on Larry. He writes a movie for himself to star in which he is constantly fucking the shit out of a hot vampire woman. I should do that.

The DVD has a lot of extras, but they are somewhat obscured by the simple listing of “Making Habit” on the main menu. I was expecting a quick all-encompassing featurette, but there are about a dozen pieces running a few minutes each, each one tackling a different part of the production as Fessenden narrates. Good stuff, and of definite use to no-budget indie filmmakers planning on shooting their own film in a big city. And it’s not all film-school stuff; one of the lengthiest actually just details the similarities between Habit and "Dracula" and other vampire lore. The trailer and a music video (the film has a great soundtrack as well) are also included in this section.

The DVD also contains “the world’s most baffling chapter stops!” I’ve seen DVDs where they merely place a chapter every 10 minutes or whatever, but these have no rhyme or reason. Chapter 2 comes in around 12 minutes (and in the middle of a scene, as are most of the others), Chapter 3 is at 18, but then Chapter 4 is around the 50 minute mark. Huh? It’s like they just dragged a few markers around the timeline in DVDStudio Pro and called it a day.

This makes the 2nd of Fessenden’s films that I have seen. The other was The Last Winter, which started OK enough but completely fell apart in its third act (which is where this film’s weaknesses lie as well, though nowhere near as crippling). Fans of his - with my feelings in mind, which of his films should I check out next?

What say you?

HorrorBlips: vote it up!


  1. You should check out Wendigo, with Patricia Clarkson and that little kid out of Malcom in the Middle. It's well acted and creepy, but the monster is a bit cheap and goofy looking.

  2. Glad you liked it. One of my favourite vampire flicks.

  3. WENDIGO is god. Awesome film. And the monster isn't goofy...It's abstract and arty. Totally effective. LOVE WENDIGO!

  4. Habit is mostly shot in the Lower East Side and was part of a weird little '90s subgenre of Lower East Side vampire films that included Nadja, The Addiction, and Jugular Wine. I think I liked Habit so much just because it was so much better than those terrible, terrible movies.


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